West Annapolis Trees
The developer, MRE properties, is proposing to build a mixed use building with housing and a first floor restaurant; that's the good part. The bad part is that they are proposing to unnecessarily remove all of the trees on the property (4 total), including two very large specimen street trees (42" and 36") along Annapolis Street that are in fair health with no sign of decline, despite two laws (Chapter 14 and Chapter 17, thanks to former Mayor Moyer) stating that such trees should be protected (as a side note I’m currently working on legislation to strengthen these laws). Their removal could easily be avoided if they would simply move the building back to the current setback, rather than moving it closer to the road. Furthermore, this risks creating a precedent where any future redevelopment along this road will also move closer to the road, meaning that many of the street trees along Annapolis Street will need to be removed, and it would prevent us from planting new large canopy trees along this street due to the power lines (having more room means the trees can be planted to avoid the powerlines). The important thing to factor in is that the developer is not making any compromises. They are removing ALL of the trees on the site. If we can’t protect trees that are in good shape and at the peak of their lives, providing the maximum benefits they can, than what trees will we protect? Aren’t these the most important trees to protect? There is a solution in sight that would not require any parking to be lost. I’ve attached a PDF with a sketch I put together showing that this is possible simply by relocating one of the stormwater management facilities. What’s more, besides just saving these tree, my proposal could enhance and restore these trees by reducing even the current impacts to the critical root zones of these trees. The developer could even maintain their outdoor dining by using a raised decking as opposed to paving over the roots.
What can you do?Read more
Here are a few notes regarding the Council meeting coming up tomorrow. Of note, we have legislation supporting local journalism, the nomination and possible confirmation of Jackie Guild to our newly created Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability (she is our current Director of the Office of Environmental Policy, which has been dissolved), and a vote to reconsider housing commission legislation we passed at our October regular Council meeting. Also read on for information on electric bill support being offered through the County.
I hope you had a fun and safe Halloween. Enjoy the weather this weekend!
This Monday is our “special” Council meeting, so it’s dedicated to public hearings and ceremonial items. There are a few non-controversial items up for legislative action on the consent calendar (means we pass them all with one vote) and I have summarized them below. There are also a few new pieces of legislation being introduced.
Read on for some information for Halloween and the County GDP. Otherwise, I don’t have much other news for you. Happy Halloween!
I have a number of important updates for you.
First of all, in regards to our Monday Council meeting, I wanted to make you aware of O-27-20, which at first seems innocuous given its title about “other excluded employees”, but if passed it will require the City to either fire (let go) or hire (as a full time and fully benefited civil servant) all contract employees (unless grant funded) after 5 years. Fully benefited civil servants cost the City more money than contract employees, and while I can understand wanting to give everyone full benefits, we are setting ourselves up for failure with this. We are currently fighting a pandemic. On top of that, we already have staff costs that are rising faster than our revenues. If this passes, we will be placed in the difficult situation of choosing either to raise taxes or lay off employees, neither of which I’d prefer to do. Until we fix our structural imbalance and address our rising staff costs, I won’t support this. If you feel strongly about keeping our expenses down at this time (and avoiding future taxes) I encourage you to contact your friends in other Wards.
Also on the agenda for Monday is a Resolution enabling our Compensation Commission, which is set up every 4 years prior to each election. We need to select a few people for this Commission, which reviews the compensation provided to the Alderpersons and Mayor. We need volunteers! If you are interested please contact me ASAP as I’ll need to amend this legislation on Monday night to get your name on there.
This Saturday we also have our first budget retreat where we will in part be identifying budget priorities for the Ward. Here’s what I’ll be bringing up (please let me know if there are others to add):
- Sidewalk expansion down Edgewood Rd and Bay Ridge Ave
- Transit down Edgewood Rd
- Resiliency (i.e. sea level rise) assessment for Ward 7 and city-wide so we know what we need to spend, what we need to plan for, and what the most vulnerable areas of the City are.
- Bike paths connecting to Ward 7 to the other Wards
Good evening everyone,
What beautiful Autumn weather! It has inspired me to get outside this weekend for some hiking and I hope you find some time to enjoy it as well. Our Council Meeting is on Tuesday this next week.
I wanted to provide a few updates from our last Council meeting. We passed O-18-20 (Institutions for the Care of the Aged), CA-1-20 & O-20-20 (Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability), and O-34-19 (Appeal Procedures). I want to extend a big “thank you” to everyone who helped to get the Deputy City Manager (i.e. the environmental re-organization) passed. I am hopeful this will really provide the focus and coordination on these issues that we need moving forward. The Mayor will likely be making an appointment to this position as soon as the required Charter Amendment takes effect (I think it’s 30 or 45 days per State law).
Here are details on the meeting next week.
This Monday we have a packed Council agenda. Rather than go through everything, I’ll just highlight some of the actionable items that you may find most interesting. We have reinstated public testimony, so if you would like to give some read on below for directions.
The big legislation up for a final vote is the environmental re-organization that would create a new Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability, and the proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation.Read more
This Monday the Council will be resuming live, audio-only public comments. If you would like to sign up to do so, please go to www.annapolis.gov/testimony 4 hours before the start of the meeting, and check the box saying that you want to give live testimony over Zoom. This is also our first meeting with the new setup, where our first meeting of the month, known in the Code as our “Regular” meeting, will focus primarily on our legislative actions, with the second meetings of this month (such as this Monday’s), known as our “Special” meeting, will contain primarily public hearings. That’s why we have so many pieces of legislation up for a hearing this Monday. All that said, we will be modifying our agenda Monday to vote on at least one or two pieces of legislation outside of our Consent Calendar, just to try to get some things passed prior to our August break. Speaking of which, I’ll still be available, but the Council is on recess during August. I will be on vacation for a few long weekends so it may take me even longer than usual to get back in touch with you.
Take care everyone and stay safe,
We have two more council meetings left until our August recess. Of note for this Monday’s meeting is a final vote on the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) legislation, adjustments to the appeal process of Planning & Zoning decisions, the final vote on a hiring freeze, and the final vote on legislation of mine that would allow the city to enforce Electric Vehicle (EV) charging spaces.
I’m also trying to find time to work on legislation outlining the Council’s desire for police reforms, legislation that would expand public water access, and legislation that would adjust our election schedule to increase voter turnout.
Lastly, I'm contemplating holding some kind of virtual town hall, perhaps in the fall. But I much prefer an in person meeting, though that likely won’t happen for a while. In the meantime, you are always welcome to reach out to me with any comments, concerns, or other issues you need help with.
Take care everyone and stay safe,
As The Capital reported, the Annapolis FY21 budget was passed. I ended up voting no for the reasons I stated in my last email: I felt it was/is inappropriate to be giving three different pay increases to City employees at a time when so many of you are out of work, and at a time when your taxes are going up. The good news is that we took some initial baby steps towards making cuts to the Police Department (pulling money to fill their vacancies), which will hopefully give us time to discuss greater organizational changes to the Department. Over the next few weeks we will be making a number of policy changes to respond to the police violence we’re seeing around the Country. All that said, I’m glad the budget is now behind us. A few of us will likely be working on improving the process for next year to try to avoid some of the headaches we’ve had this time around.
We also have much overdue legislation being introduced on Monday, which is a rent freeze preventing increases while the City is under a State of Emergency. I’ve sponsored this along with Alderman Gay and Alderwoman Tierney.
Take care everyone, and enjoy the nice weather,
This past Monday we had a 14-hour Council meeting focused primarily on discussing and voting on budget amendments. Out of about 16 amendments, only a handful passed, but were deemed significant and thus require another public hearing. In short, the vote to reduce your taxes failed (I voted in favor), the Unions said no to making any sacrifices this year, and we had to find money elsewhere to balance the budget.Read more